The Beer Drinker’s Guide: Best Breweries on the Colorado Trail

Are you a Colorado Trail hiker? Do you love beer? If so, you’ve come to the right place. The Colorado Trail is a beer lover’s dream hike. Not only do you get to traverse 485 miles of some of the best scenery the Rocky Mountains have to offer, but you’ll never go more than a few dozen miles between trail towns replete with tasty brews. No need to limit yourself to gas station six-packs, either. If you’re craving a little more ambiance with your ale, you’re in luck. From Denver to Durango, there are dozens of amazing breweries on the Colorado Trail.

All mileages are from 2020 Guthook Guides Colorado Trail.

Denver – Mile 0

Photo courtesy of Amy Aletheia Cahill.

The Denver metropolitan area is bursting with breweries large and small, but these two Littleton staples are closer to the Colorado Trail trailhead than most. Stop in for one last meal on your way to Waterton Canyon, order a round to celebrate the completion of your thru-hike or both.

Living the Dream Brewing

Address: 12305 N Dumont Way, Littleton, CO 80125

Phone Number: 303-284-9585

Why You Should Go: They have an excellent beer selection, gluten-reduced beer, food trucks, and local (non-alcoholic) kombucha on tap. Plus, it’s so aptly named.

Noteworthy Brews: Powder Run Mountain Mocha Cream Ale, Guava Mountain Gosé.

Grist Brewing Company

Address: 9150 Commerce Center Cir #300, Highlands Ranch, CO 80129

Phone Number: 720-360-4782

Why You Should Go: Grist’s quirky beer selection and dog-friendly atmosphere should welcome beer-loving hikers.

Noteworthy Brews: Bixler Honey Elixer Rye Beer, All & Westerly West Coast-style IPA.

Bailey – Mile 40.5

The unincorporated community of Bailey might not be huge, but it has plenty to offer thru-hikers nonetheless. Hikers will likely welcome the chance to gulp down an ice-cold pint or two after traversing the hot, low-elevation miles of segments one, two, and three.

Mad Jack’s Mountain Brewery

Address: 23 Main Street Bailey, CO 80421

Phone Number: (303) 816-BEER (2337)

Why You Should Go: Outdoor seating, dog-friendly, games, pizza, cider, habanero beer.

Noteworthy Brews: Hansell Honey Wheat Ale, Mango Habanero Blonde Ale.

Fairplay – Mile 71.7

Better known as the real-life town on which the cartoon South Park is based, Fairplay is also a popular destination for Colorado Trail hikers.

South Park Brewing

Address: 297 1/2 US Highway 285, Fairplay, CO 80440

Phone Number: 719-836-1932

Why You Should Go: Peach cobbler lager, large burritos. Need we say more?

Noteworthy Brews: Peach Cobbler Lager, Mad Juicy IPA.

Frisco and Breckenridge- Mile 104.1

You won’t have any trouble tracking down good food and drink in the tourism-fueled ski towns of Summit County. You can easily reach both Frisco and Breckenridge by bus. Both towns are home to some of the best breweries on the Colorado Trail—or anywhere, for that matter.

Frisco. Photo via.

Outer Range Brewing Company

Address: 182 Lusher Ct, Frisco CO 80443

Phone Number: 970-455-8709

Why You Should Go: Great views, a lengthy selection of beers, dog-friendly atmosphere. Outer Range was named USA Today’s 2nd Best Brewery in the US in 2017. Known for their IPAs.

Noteworthy Brews: Two Pound Tent IPA, In the Steep IPA.

Highside Brewing

Address: 720 Main St, Frisco CO 80443

Phone Number: 1 (970) 668-2337

Why You Should Go: Barbecue. All breweries on the Colorado Trail should serve barbecue. They also have live music and are pooch-friendly.

Noteworthy Brews: Calm the Farm Down Farmhouse Ale, Swim Beer Pilsner, Pink Lemonade Sour.

Breckenridge. Photo via Gates Frontiers Fund Colorado Collection within the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Broken Compass Brewing

Address: 68 Continental Ct, Breckenridge CO 80424

Phone Number: (970) 368-2772

Why You Should Go: If you’re looking for a more social experience to commemorate your first 100 miles on trail, mix it up with Trivia night Tuesdays or Acoustic Sundays at Broken Compass. Also, they have coconut porter.

Noteworthy Brews: Nitro Chocolate Oatmeal Stout, Coconut Porter.

Breckenridge Brewery

Photo via.

Address: 600 S Main St, Breckenridge CO 80424

Phone Number: (970) 453-1550

Why You Should Go: They have an extensive beer menu and fried pickles. Repeat: FRIED. PICKLES.

Noteworthy Brews: Agave Wheat, Mountain Beach Session Sour.

Leadville – Mile 143

Photo via.

Stop by scenic Leadville and recharge your (literal and metaphorical) batteries before diving into the Collegiates. You won’t want to miss this quintessential mountain town or the tasty brews held within.

Two Mile Brewing Company

Address: 101 Harrison Ave, Leadville CO 80461

Phone Number: (719)-293-2766

Why You Should Go: They’re new in town, but they have good food and affordable beer. ‘Nuff said.

Noteworthy Brews: Camp Hale Pale Ale, Backside Blond.

Buena Vista – Mile 216.5

Pro tip: it’s BYOO-nuh Vista, not BWAY-nuh Vista. If you accidentally butcher the pronunciation and the locals tease you mercilessly, you should head to the local brewery and drink to forget your shame.

Eddyline Brewery

Photo via.

Address: 102 Linderman Ave, Buena Vista CO 81211

Phone Number: (719) 966-6018

Why You Should Go: Eddyline offers live music, wood-fired pizza, and 12 unique house brews. Temporarily closed due to the pandemic.

Noteworthy Brews: Crank Yanker IPA, Kickn’ Back Amber.

Poncha Springs – Mile 252.9

If like many a thru-hiker, you stumble out of the Collegiates parched and desperate for beer, Poncha Springs will be your closest option from Monarch Pass. Kick back for a well-deserved zero day and a beer or two from the local brewery.

Elevation Beer Company

Raspberry Gulch Imperial Saison. Photo courtesy of Elevation Beer Co.

Address: 115 Pahlone Pkwy, Poncha Springs CO 81242

Phone Number: 719-539-5258

Why You Should Go: They offer outdoor seating, sustenance in the form of an epic food truck, and with more than 20 house beers, a more extensive selection than most breweries on the Colorado Trail. Too lazy to go there yourself? They also offer beer delivery.

Noteworthy Brews: 8 Second Kölsch, Elevation Double IPA, False Summit Quadruple Ale.

Salida – Mile 252.9

Photo via.

Outside Magazine named Salida the “Best Unsung Mountain Town” in 2017, and it’s easy to see why. Tourists love Salida for its stunning scenery and abundant outdoor recreation opportunities, but beer-drinking thru-hikers adore it for its hiker-friendly services and many breweries.

Soulcraft Brewing

Address: 248 W Rainbow Blvd, Salida CO 81201

Phone Number: 719.539.5428

Why You Should Go: At Soulcraft, you can drink green chile beer (!!), you can drink it in their outdoor seating area, and you can drink it with your furry best friend at your side.

Noteworthy Brews: Coconut Milk Stout, Sticky Pils, Green Chile Ale.

Tres Litros Beer Company

Address: 118 North E St, Salida CO 81201

Phone Number: (719) 207-4519

Why You Should Go: Ample food truck noms, outdoor seating, laid back atmosphere, and lots and lots of beer.

Noteworthy Brews: Beckerbier Imperial Oktoberfest, Boat Soda Grisette.

Gunnison – Mile 302.8

Gunnison’s quite a ways away from the CT, but many hikers make the trek anyway because there are relatively few resupply options on this stretch of trail. And for beer drinkers aiming to hit all the best breweries on the Colorado Trail, it’s well worth the 40-mile hitch.

High Alpine Brewing Company

Photo courtesy High Alpine Brewing Co.

Address: 111 N Main St, Gunnison CO 81230

Phone Number: (970) 642-4500

Why You Should Go: They have creative beer offerings (Italian Mountain Basil Ale, anyone?), plus brick oven pizza, salad, and outdoor seating. Pro tip: November is stout month at High Alpine—one new stout released each week of the month. YUM.

Noteworthy Brews: Curecanti Chile Beer, Hero Dirt Double IPA. Sol’s Espresso Stout (new this November. From the owner: “A delightful oatmeal stout that has been infused with just the right amount of espresso from our friends at Tributary Coffee Roasters right here in Gunnison, CO.”).

Creede – Mile 343

Photo via.

It’s not easy to walk or hitchhike the 10 miles from San Luis Pass to Creede, but it’s worth it for the charming ambiance, excellent resupply, and, of course, the beer.

Square Peg Brewerks

Address: 123 N Main St, Creede CO 81130

Phone Number: n/a

Why You Should Go: Their beer is so local that one of the co-owners grows the barley on his farm and has it malted locally in the San Luis Valley. Also, they have peanut butter stout.

Noteworthy Brews: Peanut Butter Stout, Rained Out IPA.

Lake City – Mile 357.8

You can reach this historic mining town from Spring Creek Pass but prepare for a challenging hitch. Lake City is a tiny tourist town, rather than the bustling metropolis the name implies, but it offers all the services a hiker would need—resupply, lodging, and beer included.

Lake City Brewing Company

Address: 130A Bluff St, Lake City, CO 81235

Phone Number: (970) 944-5222

Why You Should Go: They have awesome devilled eggs. And beer cheese sauce. Beer cheese sauce is the only reason anyone needs to go anywhere, right? Also, they have outdoor seating, so your hiker trash stank won’t ruin the ambiance for fellow patrons.

Noteworthy Brews: Redcloud Scotch Ale, LCBC Cream Ale.

Silverton – Mile 411.1

Photo via.

The tiny town of Silverton is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the Colorado Trail at Molas Pass. Several beer-getting opportunities make it well worth the short hitch to this Rocky Mountain tourist mecca. And with just over 75 miles remaining for westbound CT hikers, why not stop and savor one last zero day before it’s all over?

Avalanche Brewing Company

Maple Bacon Breakfast Stout (not currently on tap). Photo courtesy of Avalanche Brewing Co.

Address: 1151 Greene St, Silverton CO 81433

Phone Number: 970-387-5282

Why You Should Go: Large beer selection, including some unique, fruity sours (hello, strawberry rhubarb gosé). Pizza, tacos, and other deliciousness to soothe the raging beast within (aka hiker hunger).

Noteworthy Brews: Pride of the West Porter, Double Diamond Blackberry Gosé.

Golden Block Brewery

Address: 1227 Greene St, Silverton CO 81433

Phone Number: (970) 387-5962

Why You Should Go: It takes guts to hike the Colorado Trail, but it takes even more guts to order seafood in a land-locked mountain town. Still, we hear Golden Block’s lobster pizza is pretty rad.

Noteworthy Brews: Blind Load IPA, Golden Bock.

Durango – Mile 485

Once you reach Durango, you can have a beer to celebrate the end of that grueling 12-mile descent from Taylor Lake and the completion of your thru-hike. Or you can steel yourself for that grueling 12-mile climb to Taylor Lake, and the beginning of your thru-hike. Either way, your first (or last) breweries on the Colorado Trail are sure to pack a punch.

Ska Brewing

Modus Hoperandi from Ska Brewing. Photo via.

Address: 225 Girard St, Durango CO 81301

Phone Number: 970-247-5792

Why You Should Go: This successful craft brewery sells their beer in locations as far-flung as California, Minnesota, and Hawaii, but it’s all brewed at their wind-powered facility right here in Durango. Stop in for deliciously punny brews or a house-brewed hard seltzer.

Noteworthy Brews: Modus Hoperandi IPA, Mexican Logger (summer only).

Steamworks Brewing Company

Steamworks One Wit Wunder. Photo via.

Address: 801 E 2nd Ave, Durango, CO 81301

Phone Number: (970) 259-9200

Why You Should Go: STOUT BACON BROWNIES. They also have vegetarian and gluten-free menu options, house-brewed hard seltzer, amazing brisket, Cajun Boil, and stout bacon brownies.

Noteworthy Brews: Third Eye P.A., Prescribed Burn.

Breweries on the Colorado Trail That Also Distribute

Visiting breweries on the Colorado Trail sounds amazing, but sometimes you’re just too tired, too broke, or too pressed for time to stop in. Fear not! Many of the breweries on this list distribute to groceries, liquor stores, and gas stations throughout the region. Check for these local brews at your next resupply stop.

Huge shout out to Tara Ritchey for the thorough background research that made this guide possible.

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Comments 3

  • Paul Trulove : Oct 6th

    What about Carver Brewing Company in Durango. Their Colorado Trail Nut Brown Ale is free if you thru hike the trail, and as I recall it is a great beer after a hot day on the trail!

    Reply
  • Daddy Longlegs : Oct 8th

    Mr. Trulove beat me to it!
    Carver Brewing is the first stop SoBo’s should hit upon completion of the trail. Free pint for thru-Hikers and incredible food to boot. Do NOT miss CBC!

    Reply
    • Ned W Grauel : Oct 9th

      Yes to the two above. Carver’s is the place to go! 1022 Main St.

      Reply

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